Amidst the hilly landscape of Judaean Mountains, at the border with the Judean Desert, lies Bethlehem – a fertile oasis decorated with olive trees and vines. This is the place as if specially prepared by nature to be the birthplace of Jesus Christ. Interestingly, David was anointed here as the king of Israel. At the entrance of the city – the tomb of Rachel, the matriarch of all Jewish people.
Visiting this city is on your wish list? The best option is a tour to Bethlehem from any point of Israel with 123 Trip Tel Aviv to make the best use of your time in the Holy Land.
Key to history
Bethlehem is a religious center and a pilgrimage site in Palestine, about 10 km from Old Jerusalem. In the past, the city’s population was Christians. Today, the majority of people here are Muslims. Inhabitants are engaged in handicrafts, trade, production of wonderful souvenirs made of olive wood. The main industry is tourism.
The Church of the Nativity
According to the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, wise men saw a star over the Bethlehem city and came to worship the future messiah. They offered Him gifts – gold as to a King, frankincense as to a God, myrrh as to a Man.
The Church of the Nativity is located on the central Manger Square – the baby "was born in a barn and laid in a manger". The church is built on a hill over the Grotto of the Nativity. There is a 14-point silver star in the center. It is believed to be the exact spot where Jesus Christ was born. The entrance to the church is through the Door of Humility, which is about 120 cm high, because everyone should bow symbolically before stepping inside the church.
The Church of the Nativity is one of the oldest ones in the Christian world. In the church, there are mosaics from the Crusader period and famous columns that carry paintings of saints. This historical monument is declared a World Heritage Site.
The Milk Grotto
A sacred place — the Milk Grotto. Legend has it, the Holy Family found refuge in the grotto during the Massacre of the Innocents ordered by King Herod, before they could flee to Egypt. When the Virgin Mary was breastfeeding Jesus, several drops of milk fell on the floor. The stone changed its color to white.
The Milk Grotto is an important pilgrimage destination, especially for women who cannot conceive children. The demonstration of notes and babies’ photos from all over the world is testimony to its power.
The Church of Saint Catherine
The Catholic Church of Saint Catherine was built by Franciscans in the 19th century in Bethlehem on the ruins of an ancient Crusader church. The church is famous for the celebration of Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve, which is broadcast to many countries worldwide.
Holy site at the northern entrance of the city – the tomb of the matriarch Rachel, beloved wife of the patriarch Jacob.
The Mosque of Omar
The Mosque of Omar in front of the Church of the Nativity is the only mosque in the Old City. Only four years after the death of the Islamic prophet Muhammad, Omar, the second Rashidun caliph, prayed at the location of the mosque – the fact, which determines the historical importance of the city to Muslims.
Winding quaint streets of the beautiful, quiet, well-preserved old city start right from the Manger Square. Try falafel, hummus, shawarma, and baklava from street vendors. Everything is delicious!
More impressions with 123 Trip Tel Aviv
Benefit from our experience! Book a tour with 123 Trip Tel Aviv to visit Bethlehem and its amazing historical neighborhoods:
· Shepherds’ fields in the neighboring town Beit Sahour;
· Solomon's Pools in Artas;
· Murad Castle;
· fortress-palace Herodium.
This is an unforgettable trip! Bethlehem is a mix of Christian monuments, Jewish history, Arab culture, and street art. Travel with 123 Trip Tel Aviv!